How to make and cut CP soap in 6 hours
What a dream of each soapmaker 🙂
… do you think it is impossible?
I thought the same… or at least, I did not really think about it as a possibility… until I had to find a way. Here is the story…
In November 2014 I decided to start soapmaking classes in response to demands of my blog followers.
Looking around online, I found that most of the soapmaking courses were only demonstrative – the teacher showed how it is done while others were watching…
But I really wanted to offer the participants of my course a full hands-on experience in which they could make CP soap by themselves from the very beginning to the very end: set up the recipe, weigh and mix the ingredients, see the soap gel, unmould it, cut it and decorate it using embossing stamps and micas.
…and all this with two hours of theory prior to soaping and an hour and half for lunch, during one day (09AM to 7PM)…
As you can see, I had to resolve a problem – how to make and cut CP soap in 6 hours…
From my experience, I knew that:
- My soap has to gel since this accelerates saponification and once the gel phase finished, the soap is finished – and ready to cut! Moreover, it should be a quick gel, that sets on within an hour-two after pouring the soap into the mould.
- Since the gelled soap is very soft (jelly) for quite a long time, I need to cool it quickly so that it hardens for cutting.
There are many ways how to make your soap gel quickly:
1. Ensure your soap has enough heat – either by insulating the mould well (a wooden mould is preferred), or by putting your soap mould on/near the heat source. This is easy during winter, since you have always some kind of heating on. If it is sunny outside, put your soap on the sun. A sun-heated metal plate (on the window or elsewhere) is even better place. You can also use electric blanket to put your mould on, or just use oven (very low heat, 50°C for about an hour or two – this is already a CPOP – cold process in the oven process method).
2. Choose a recipe that gels easily – this comprises a careful combination of all ingredients that affect the gel phase:
i) oils high in oleic and linoleic fatty acids (most of liquid oils) saponify and gel much slower than oils high in palmitic and stearic fatty acids (cocoa butter, shea butter, palm oil…), or lauric fatty acid (coconut oil, palm kernel oil). Your recipe should therefore contain at least 30% of quickly saponifying oils.
My course recipe contains 70% of olive oil and 30% of coconut oil. Easy and with no surprises. I did not add palm oil, since it is not ecological, and the alternatives are either too expensive (shea butter, cocoa butter) or non vegetarian (lard, tallow).
ii) the proportion of water in the recipe – too much water (<25% lye concentration) or too little (>40%) water can significantly slow down the gel phase. Keep your recipe within 25-35% lye concentration range. In my recipe, I use the Soapcalc’s default for water as of 38% of oil weight, which for this particular recipe gives 28% lye concentration.
3. Beware of overheating and separation – do not include any sugar, alcohol (also fragrances), diary products or trace accelerating essential oils (cinnamon, clove bud – those containing eugenol) in your recipe – all accelerate the saponification reaction and if you do any additional heating, you can finish with a disaster. Not necessarily a soap volcano, but definitely soap sweating and leaking (water+glycerine) due to a too violent gel phase.
For the quick cooling, you need to put your soap – once the gel phase is through all the soap – to the fridge or a freezer. Leave it there for at least 40 minutes, to be sure it cooled down and hardened also on the inside. If you cut it and find a soft inside, put the rest of the soap again in the fridge until it hardens.
To sum up, a CP in 6 hours can look like this:
1st hour – recipe preparation, blending, pouring into molds
2nd hour – onset of the gel phase
3rd-4th hour – the gel phase
5th hour – cooling in the fridge
6th hour – unmoulding and cutting
Finally, you can get to cut your CP soap in 6 or so hours also not following some of the points above. A proof is my Lavender milk 100% olive oil soap, where I used only olive oil and did not insulate my plastic mould at all. The milk and water discount accelerated the trace and helped the soap to harden very fast even without the gel phase.
The most important is to know how to keep the balance between oils, water and additional ingredients in order to accelerate the trace and the saponification and when to choose insulating your moulds. This is the very craft of soapmaking – I will dedicate this some other post(s).
And what are your ways of accelerating the time between CP soap making and cutting? Let me know in the comments below!
and… Soap well 🙂